The quiet stillness is broken by the occasional popping of the fire in the fireplace.
A lit-up Nativity scene silently stands watch over the dim room.
Lights twinkle on the tree. The room is filled with the smells of pine and hot apple cider.
It's Christmastime again.
It's a time to reflect back on the blessings of the year.
It's a time for late nights of crafting and baking and hours of Christmas songs that get stuck in your head.
It's a time for snuggles on the couch under a fuzzy red blanket, reading stories about Small Ones and Trees that become so much more.
It's a time for the struggle every Christian parent faces, which is: how to keep Christmas simple and keep it from running away with your family to Pleasure Island (the cursed island from Pinocchio, which turns you into an ass).
If you haven't seen the movie Pinocchio for awhile - the Island is full of boys drinking and smoking and fighting and playing pool and eating all the candy they want, Pinocchio is tempted there by some "cool kids" from school and after awhile they all turn into braying donkeys... these scenes in the movie remind me of the mall at Christmastime, just sayin'.
Meanwhile we juggle the elf on the shelf and the fat guy in the red suit and try to talk our kids out of asking for gifts that Santa can't afford... since "he makes it all in his toy shop, why does it matter how much it costs?" Argh!
I don't know what you do, but we start by trying to limit the amount of "stuff" the kids get.
We do this in a few ways:1. We simplify Grandparents' gifts (please, keep it below 3), and encourage gifts that add value to their lives (a class or experience rather than more stuff, last year my son got a week-long Lego Robotics class, for example)
2. We simplify gifts to and from friends by making them "family gifts", rather than buying gifts for individuals
3. Santa is pretty careful about how much goes in the stocking, and only gets them each ONE "bigger" gift
4. We simplify gifts from us... we follow this cute poem (heard it on the radio a couple of years ago):
5. We simplify Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - We spend Christmas Eve at church and Christmas night at home in our own beds. We spend the first part of Christmas day just our immediate family, and we go to only one other home that day. Every other year we trade off whose parents we go have dinner with on Christmas day. This doesn't mean we don't see the other grandparents... we just do Christmas with that part of the family on a different day.
Christmas is a beautiful time. A time to reflect, renew and REJOICE!
Don't allow the chaos that can come with Christmas to steal your joy!
What do you think? How do you keep the "holiday crazy" from ruining your Christmas JOY?
Gladly linking up with 504 Main for Tickled Pink and Bloggers for Christmas